Friday, January 29, 2010

organization woes

We've lived in our home for one year and a few days now.  While it's been quite an adjustment, having a smaller home than before--all the while adding a third child, I've come to love our home.  It's cozy and we are never far from each other.  And it's our own, forever house. 

One problem we've yet to solve is the never-ending stream of mail and paperwork.  Both Bean and I are guilty of saving various things to "deal with later."  So we end up with stacks of stuff on our dining table and on the kitchen counter.  In the near future, we will need to utilize every seat at the table, so it will have to stay clean.  And we already have very limited kitchen counter space, so clutter decreases it even less.

The obvious solution would be--let's be more proactive.  But, as I just told Bean...we've been married for over 8 years, and it's always been this way.  It's just us, and we need to accept it.  And with a child in school and two working parents--there are things that we do need to have easy access to (like Miss Rose's weekly site words & reading lists).

I come to you, oh blogosphere for suggestions and ideas.  There is no space for a desk or additional piece of furniture.  The only potential solution I've found so far is the Daily System by Pottery Barn.  While I wouldn't use ALL the pieces, there are a few that seem promising.  But, they are pricey.  For something that may or may not solve the issue.

I feel like this is an impossible issue!  I have some other organizational issues too, but this is the one that bothers me the most.  Let's not talk about my children's books or other various small household items I'm not sure what to do with.

I realize, that if this is my biggest problem right now, I have much to be thankful for.  I do, and I am.  I could have much worse problems. 

All that said, anyone have any products or recommendations for me?  I've done some google searches and haven't come up with much.  A few possibilities, but nothing that really shouts--I'll organize your life on the wall!!  I've got to maximize every bit of space.

Or maybe I just need to figure out how to accept the piles of paperwork that seem to litter my home.

face time for gracie girl

With birthdays two days apart, my biggest and littlest girls have taken up a lot of space on my blog this week.
The week would not be complete without a little face time for Gracie here. She is one of the craziest little beans in our Three Bean Circus.
As most two-year-old's are, Gracie is a pretty crazy sleeper. She moves around a lot during the course of the night. She sleeps in a twin bed with a guard rail. We had to stuff some large pillows between the wall and the bed because she was getting stuck there, sometimes on purpose, sometimes while she slept.
She's also taken to sleeping under her pillow lately.
When Bean went to check the girls before we went to bed the other night, this is what he found.
That would be the head of the bed her feet are on.


This, was the view under the pillow.

Now tell me, how exactly is that comfortable?  Somehow to her, it was.  She was fast asleep and barely woke when we righted her.

Love that girl!  Can't wait to celebrate her birthday in April.  I know it's going to be here before we know it.
Now excuse my while I go take care of the major load I hear Lily working on right now in her highchair.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

birthday girls

Where has the year gone?

How has this little newborn...


















Grown into this bubbly baby girl?



















I mean, she is still quite a baby.  And will be for several more months.  Especially since she still hasn't decided to crawl.  I'm definitely not ready to leave the baby-raising years yet.

But it's still hard to believe that it was just one year ago that she was born.

Our sweet surprise.  A desired child, who came at an unexpected time.

Although I am a planner, the baby-lover in me always thought it would be special to unexpectedly concieve.  And sure enough, I did!  Not only did I unexpectedly concieve, but I also was a full 4 weeks more pregnant than I thought when I had my first ultrasound.

Lily has brought so much joy to our family.  How could a baby not?  I love seeing Miss Rose interact with her in a nurturing manner.  It shows me how "grown-up" Miss Rose is.  Gracie loves her baby sister so much.  The first thing she says to me when I get home from work is "there's your Lily."  I can tell in the next few months as Lily learns to play with others, she and Gracie will become fast best friends.  In another year or so, I fully anticipate these little girls sharing a room and giggling together at night as they go to sleep.

Lily may not crawl yet, but she has acquired other talents.  She plays peek-a-boo both with a blanket and also with her hands.  Much of the time her hands are to the side of her eyes, but she knows what she's doing.  Her first official word is "hi."  Lily loves to greet people with an outstretched hand, a "hi" and a smile.  She also loves to talk on the phone.  Anytime she sees the phone she says "hi" over and over again.  If I touch her nose with one finger, she'll reach out with one finger for my nose. 

We had a small celebration at a park playdate for Lily, cousin G who turns 2 on Monday and another 1-yr old.  Lily was all about the mini-cupcake placed in her hand.  The other little girl was much more dainty about it.

At home tonight, we had another small celebration for our birthday girls.

 

Clearly, Lily enjoyed this cupcake too.  She wasted no time digging in to it.
I can see that this week of the year, is going to be a full one for us from now on.  Between celebrations at school and with family and friends, times two, it's a week full of baking, preparations, sugar, but most importantly--love.

Poor Gracie, doesn't quite understand this year why her two sisters are sharing birthday celebrations, but she isn't included.  We will be sure to make a big deal out of her birthday in April!  I think three is when they finally understand what a birthday is and all that it entails.  Gracie, my little diva, will certainly soak it all in when her day comes around.

Although the parties are fun, with family and friends, what I treasure most are the moments with just the five of us.



And what better end to our day, then a litle reading time with all my babies.


They are all still my babies and always will be.  Miss Rose is like an oversized puppy dog who still wants to crawl into your lap.  Gracie still asks to be held and carried quite often.  And Lily, well obviously, she IS still a baby. 

I love them and I'm in awe of their love for me.

one year ago

One year ago yesterday, I wrote this post.

One year ago today, we became a party of five.

More later today!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hired: my most important job

Miss Rose turned 6 today! 


She had a wonderful day!  Lots of love, treats, family and phone calls.  She was quite popular and talked on my iPhone more than I did today.  It was definately her day.  We were outside, getting ready to head to dinner, waiting for the neighbor girl who was coming with us.  Neighbor girl was having a hard time because decided she would rather go to the school talent show...which caused Miss Rose to cry because she wanted to go too.  So after make sure she understood the trade-off, it was decided Bean would take the two girls to the talent show.  Miss Rose was thrilled, Bean and I were bummed.  We were looking forward to a family dinner out.  But it was her day, to choose what she wanted--and hey, we saved some bucks not paying for dinner out!

The overriding thought in my mind today has been that it was 6 years ago that Miss Rose made me a mom.  A job I had long desired and waited for.  Finally, I was hired!!  I felt awful most of the day she was born thanks to reactions to medications and a c-section.  But it paled in comparison to the knowledge that I was finally A MOM.  I was overjoyed to nurse her for the first time, to change her diaper, to lay with a sleeping baby on my chest--a baby that was MINE.  Miss Rose wasn't too interested in sleeping in the isolette at night and was much happier in the crook of my arm.  And quite honestly, I was happier with her there too.

I love this job more than anything.  On the craziest, most overwhelming days, I still wouldn't change it for the world.  I may work outside the house, but I strive hard to still be a full-time mom.  You can work outside the home and still be a full-time mom.  Yes, it takes sacrifices on many fronts, but so worth it.  There are days I want to escape.  To get out on my own.  But not too long into my solo forays, I'm anxious to get home to my family. 

So, thank you Miss Rose, for making me a mom 6 years ago.


I love you more than anything and I cherish every moment of being your mom.  Even when you challenge me, when you annoy me, when you won't listen, I'm so blessed to be your mom and that God chose me to raise you to love and serve him.  You are an amazing big sister, so tender-hearted and loving. 

Your name means "My God has answered" and God truly did answer my prayers and give me the desires of my heart when he gave me you.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Something new...and someone 6

I'm trying out Disqus comments.  I like it on other blogs, so we'll see how it works here.  You don't have to register for an account if you don't want to.  But if you do, then I can comment back to you, and you'll be notified of it.  Just sayin'....

My first baby girl turns 6 tomorrow.  At 8:25am in the morning.  Want to read her birth story?  It's here.
6 is a big deal.  She's really becoming a big girl.

Hopefully I will have the time to share some birthday thoughts tomorrow.  We're taking her out for dinner, always a fun time with the kidlets!  Entertaining.  Hopefully Gracie won't start yelling out about her nipples like she did the last time we went out.  That kid is a crack up!

Tomorrow morning when we arrive at school,  I'll be loading the double jogger with a baby, a box of cupcakes and probably a toddler on the very front.  Because that's what you do when you're a mom.  She's SO worth it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

girls, girls, girls

Girls, all I really want is girls.
And the morning it's girls
Cause in the evening it's girls

(who can name that artist?)

That was a fun song we loved to belt out in high school.  I'm not sure why, but we did.  (No, that wasn't an artist I listened to regularly.  It was mostly just that one song.)

Little did I know how it would resemble my life.  When I imagined having children, I guess because I come from a family with 3 girls and 1 boy, I just assumed I'd have children of both genders also.  But apparently, Bean is good at making girls (it is his call, you know).  We like to say we have just one recipe, with a few variations.

It seems like the majority of my friends with two or more children, have all the same gender.  Whether it's two, three or four, its all girls or boys.  I don't think any of them continued having children to get that boy or that girl, that's just the family size they chose (or God chose for them).  People often joke with us (especially Bean) about trying for a boy.  But we are so happy with our three daughters and neither of us could imagine it differently.

Having multiple children of the same gender is pretty convienent.  Lots of hand me downs and getting multiple uses out of the same items.  It does mean lots of bins in my garage to save for the next girl--and it seems no matter how many times I organize them, they still are all jumbled.  Although I would have been just as thrilled to have a son (I still wish I could have used our boy name), I was somewhat relieved that our third child was another girl, seeing that we had just moved and her arrival was supposed to be 10 days later.

It's been fun that one of my longtime friends also has three girls!  Her girls are each about a year older than mine.  It's been especially nice this last year as I've navigated having children just 21 months apart as her last two were 24 months apart.  We also share clothes and baby items.  We live about 45min from each other, so when we do get to meet up, we always have things to exchange.  Bean gets annoyed because he always has to bring stuff in to them, and then re-load the van with new stuff!  But it's a huge blessing!  (She also made my new header and took two of the photos in it!)

We like to meet up at Sea World sometimes.  It's moments like these, we realize wow--together, we have a lot of kids, and a lot of girls!



It's a bit blurry, but mamas with their girls!  (The security guard who took our photo did a great job of getting the killer whale in the shot!)




I know our poor husbands!  Especially in about 10 years when all the girls will be in pre-puberty or puberty!

All I know is, I love my girls!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Not Me Monday: the celebrity version



Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

It's been a few weeks since I have participated in this blog carnival, but now is as good a time as ever to jump back in!

This week, I certainly did not eat more than my fair share of baked goods, while we had a storm that lasted days, a rare occurrence here in Sunny So Cal.  I did not finish off half a loaf of beer bread on my own, as well as polish off lots of cookie dough batter and freshly baked cookies.  Not me!

I was not right twice this week, about two of my daughters needing antibiotics.  The doctors I saw did not seem a bit incredulous that a parent knew when to bring their sick children in.

In the midst of a chaotic week of sick children, I did not find myself at the fine establishment of 7-11, purchasing bananas and macaroni and cheese.  I would never buy fruit at a convenience store.  Not me.

I am not considering myself a Z-list Celebrity (not even good enough to make the D-list) because I tweeted about Carrie Underwood & Jillian Michaels, and then got this reply

Adding to my Z-list, or maybe pushing it to X-list Celebrity status, MckMama's new friend from the cruise, was not on my floor as a freshman when I was a Resident Assistant.  I did not connect with her on Facebook recently, and then just a few weeks later see her in a photo MckMama tweeted from the MckCruise, and then see reference to her and her husband (who she was dating while in college) on MckMama's blog.  And I'm not shameless enough to blog about my tiny thread of a connection to her.  (And if we're not being shameless, she was in the room next to me, and just as sweet as can be.)


And in closing today, while bathing my toddler and baby,  I did not find myself telling my almost 3-year old to "please don't put that spoon in the baby's crack."  And at lunch with friends this weekend I did not tell same toddler , "please stop yelling nipples" and "please stop yelling that your nipples are bigger." Nope, not me.  My children are well behaved and would never speak with such inappropriate language.  And of course I do not find myself stifling laughter whenever I have to say things of this nature.

Not me!

2 for 2

It's become almost comedic.  Luckily I have a good sense of humor and am not easily overwhelmed.

I was tweeting, but didn't blog about the fact that I took Lily to the doctor in the pouring rain on Monday. Picture it, sheets of rain pouring from the sky, a sick feverish baby, a toddler with a nap cut short, and a mom trying to carry them BOTH into the dr. office, with a kindergartener trailing behind.  A glamorous life!  The verdict was ear infection, which I suspected.

And now...

Miss Rose has strep throat.  I didn't want it to be true.  I was hoping it was just a virus.  That the redness I saw in her throat yesterday was not as bad as I suspected.

This morning though, there was no denying it.  The redness had spread across the roof of her mouth and was peppered with small red dots.  It looked a lot like the images I googled yesterday of strep throat.  No, I don't believe everything I see or read on the internet.  I spoke with a nurse who agreed she needed to be evaluated.

The doctor went through the usual questions and initial evalution.  After one look in her mouth, he looked at me and said "have you seen this throat?"  I answered "yeah, that's why I'm here!"  He kept talking about how "hot" her throat was, which made me laugh.  A quick strep test and again "that's a hot throat."

Perhaps the harder part comes the next 24hrs--keeping Miss Rose semi-quarrantined.  The dr. says strep is very contagious and the impression I got was with the raging case she has, perhaps even more so.  Miss Rose is an oral child--lots of toys and her fingers are in her hands often.  And what 2yr old isn't oral?  So there is a lot of cross-contamination that goes on in our home, no matter how many reminders I give.  In fact, I'm quite concerned with with the exposure that's already occurred.  Can't change that now.

I must say, I'm rather impressed with my mommy instinct.  I try not to be a hypchondriac mother who takes her children to the doctor at every sniffle or cough.  It helps that I have to pay $15 every time we go in!  I hate to waste that $15.  Although Bean says it's never a waste, because better to know they are okay, instead of worrying.  But, 2 for 2 this week, knowing my children had some sort of infection going on and needed antibiotics.

I may open my own pre-screening clinic.  You can call or email me, tell me what's going on with your child, and I'll tell you (according to my very un-educated opinion) if you should take your child in.  For a small nominal fee.

Really though, I think I am going to work on a blog about what I've learned the past few years and what criteria I use to judge whether my kids need to go in or not.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

bubbles

Am I the only one considering putting my children in a bubble for the rest of the cold and flu season?  We've NEVER been hit with so many things before.  Certainly some of it could be due to Miss Rose being in school now, but she went to school 5 mornings a week last year, starting in January. 

The only thing that doesn't make me feel like a complete failure of a mom is that many other families I know, around the States, are experiencing the same indidence of illness.  In fact, I heard later this morning that my niece was home from school with a fever as well.  I can't help but wonder though, if I got more vegetables in my children, if they took their vitamins every single day (we hit about 4 days a week), if they would wash their hands more, perhaps we wouldn't have so much illness.

Unfortunately, I think it just is what it is and there isn't much that can be done. 

Except put them in a bubble. I mean, I could get an extra large bubble they all three could be in together to keep each other company.  If I could just get them stay there for a few months, we'd be out of this season of sickness.

I thought we were on the upswing today, until Miss Rose woke from an afternoon nap with a full-blown fever again.  The only other symptom she complains of is a sore throat.  I suppose it could be Strep Throat, or it could just be a virus.  If her fever is high again tomorrow, I think we'll pay a visit to the doctor. 

I'm praying that whatever this is doesn't get passed around.  Because do you know how impossible it is to not get children to contaminate one another?  Gracie has been jumping all over Miss Rose all day, and I can't stop it.  Gracie lays on her pillow no matter how many times I tell her not to.  And when a sick child joins you in bed at night, how can you not come in contact with their germs?

Can anyone find out where to purchase a bubble for my children?  I'd really appreciate it.

rainysickpajamamovieday

It's been raining and storming for a few days now in America's Finest City here in Southern California.  While we do get rain several times a year, we don't usually get these big storms.  I hear that it's an El Nino year, which explains it.

I love it!  I was born in Seattle and lived in Washington state until I was almost 9, so I love weather.  Don't get me wrong, I love the sun and the beach and all the other perks.  But I love when some weather comes to town.  Especially when I get to be home in it--not at work.  Which when you live in a city that isn't used to weather, that's a good idea.  Drivers get crazy.  Trees fall because they aren't accustomed to the wind.  Lots of areas flood.

Miss Rose came down with a fever and a sore throat last night.  So she's home from school today.  Which is a great excuse to stay in our jammies, watch movies and watch it storm outside.  I am missing playgroup this morning, but I have my own little playgroup right here.  I'm hoping the fever is shortlived and it's not something that will be passed around the house.  Been there, done that, got the bumper sticker and the souvenir too many times already.

I'd love to be baking and sewing today.  But I'm out of white flour.  And I don't have a sewing machine.  My mom has an uber-old machine that was her grandma's.  I might break it out and see if it's working.  That's actually the machine I learned to sew on.  I have no idea what I will sew or what kind of fabric I have.  But it still sounds like fun.

In other nonrelated news...I'm getting close to caving and getting a gym membership. On the one hand, it's not something I really want to pay for.  On the other hand, it seems like it may be a few years before I'll be able to get out regularly and exercise.  It happens about once a week right now, maybe twice.  And it's just life.  Bean is more than happy to support my running habit, but life gets in the way.

I'm just not comfortable getting up early and running in the dark.  And I'm not exaggerating when I say that due to the size and layout of our house, doing DVD's aren't really an option any more.  The kids have an earlier wake time with the school schedule and the baby too--so when I'm jumping around in the living room (about 5 steps from the baby's room) everyone wakes up.

As I've said before, running, or any sort of cardio is my happy pill.  I crave those endorphins.

So maybe this will just be for a season.  I'm totally okay with waking early and running at the gym before Bean leaves for work.  And on days I work, I can work out on my lunch, or on my way home.   Costco has a deal right now for a few years membership that works out to be $12.50 a month.  Which isn't bad.  It's just so painful to pay it all up front!!

I'm going to enjoy our rainysickpajamamovieday and continue contemplating my exercise future.

And I will probably blog more today.  So stay tuned for more from the three bean circus!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

you give and take away

I love worship music.  I love to worship.  I love to sing worship.  I love to lead worship.  In a former life, that was my primary area of ministry (remember, I'm a pastor).  It's in worship, that I feel closest to God, that I can pour my heart out and where God really speaks to me.

In the course of worship on a Sunday morning, there is usually a phrase or portion of a song that sticks out to me--that touches me--that reveals something new about God and how he works to me.

This past Sunday it was Blessed Be The Name by Matt Redman.  I've sung that song, I've led that song probably hundreds of times.  Sometimes it's over-sung, but I never tire of the words in every part of the song.  As we sang it this Sunday, I recalled the most recent time I sang it, which was at Eddie's memorial service.  A very fitting song for such an occasion.

What struck me in a new way was the phrase "you give and take away."  Taken straight from Job 1:21.
Job knew pretty much the limits of what can be taken away--his children, his livelihood, the support of his wife and friends.  Yet he said he would bless the Lord.

So often we look at those as two separate things.  We can make a list of the things the Lord has given us--the blessings, the provisions, the miracles.  Then we make a list of what has been taken away--the loved ones we have lost, the jobs, relationships, opportunities.

What hit me Sunday was that these two things actually are quite connected.  Whenever God takes something, he also gives.  It's not that he replaces what has been taken with a duplicate or similar thing.  But he never leaves us without.

When I was 7 months pregnant, my job was taken from me.  I'll spare you the details, but it was a very difficult time.  I lost much more than a job.  But, through those circumstances the Lord gave me the opportunity to spend Miss Rose's first 16 months with her.  I worked at a daycare for a few months and I was able to bring Miss Rose with me.  Then I was home and also watched my niece full-time for her first year.  I am so glad she was able to be with me, and Miss Rose (they are just 4 months apart) for that crucial first year.  She holds a special place in my heart because of that year we shared together.

See the connection?  I'm not necessarily saying God took my job, but he did allow it to be taken--yet he also gave me so much.

I think about the loss of my friend Eddie.  His wife and sons have lost so much.  He was taken from them much too soon.  Yet, they are gaining a close relationship with his two best friends and their families.  They are gaining a circle of friends and supporters who want to be there for them in every way possible. 

If there is anyone in my life who knows the principles in this verse, it's my friend A.  After a few years of struggling with infertility, she was finally blessed with a pregnancy.  A baby boy.  After multiple ultrasounds and doctor appointments (routine when you have infertility treatments) it wasn't until her Level 2 ultrasound about halfway through the pregnancy they found out little Cole had a rare skeletal disorder and wouldn't survive.  Just a few weeks later he was born to heaven and then delivered onto this earth.

The Lord gave.  Then the Lord took away.  Then the Lord gave again just a few months later when A. found herself pregnant again, without any infertility treatments.  She wasn't even done grieving her son, as she also rejoiced in a precious daughter.  Baby Finley, who was born at just 26 weeks.  What?  How could the Lord take away again?  Why would he bless them with this unexpected pregnancy so soon after losing a son, only for it to be troubled and a baby born almost too soon?  Those are answers we still don't know.

What we do know is against most odds,  Baby Finley is thriving.  She's up to 4 pounds, from her birth weight of 1 pound and 6 ounces.  She's expected to go home soon.  Sure, the road ahead is still long, peppered with various challenges.  But Finley is a survivor.  She's Mighty Mouse.  The Lord did give.

The Lord has given them his sufficient grace.  The Lord has given probably hundreds around them, the privilege of praying for this baby girl and her parents.  There are people in my church, friends of mine who have never been A. or this family.  But they pray.  They constantly ask me for updates.  The Lord has given increased faith.  The Lord has given a testimony.  As Psalm 126:5 says, they've sown many tears, but now they will reap songs of joy.

God never leaves us hanging.  Whenever we lose someone or something, he also provides.

The next time you sing this song, the next time you grieve over the loss of something in your life, open your eyes to look for what God is giving you.  Because he is.  I'm certain of that.

Are you in the midst of that "taking away" part of the verse?  Hold on, because the giving is coming.  I promise.  He promises.

(Want to know what I can't stop listening to right now?  David Crowder's new album.  The lyrics, the music, it all gets me.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Yummy Healthier Banana Bread

I love to bake and even more than that I love to eat baked items.  Anytime I can tweak a recipe to be a bit healthier, I’m all for it.  I am actually one who is willing to sacrifice a bit of flavor or texture in the name of less calories or fat, from time to time (defininately not all of the time). 

Bean, not so willing to make those same sacrifices.  He’d rather go without than eat less than satisfactory foods.  I’m all for a No Pudge Brownie when need be, but Bean will pass.

So when I come across a recipe that is healthy, but doesn’t taste like it-it’s a huge win!

I don’t exactly know which website I found this recipe on.  If I did, I would totally credit it.  It’s written on a tiny piece of notebook paper without a title.  Clearly I was multi-tasking.

There are even further adjustments you can make if you so desire, which I’ve included in parenthesis.

1.5 cups flour (I may try it with whole wheat flour next time I make it)
¾ cup of sugar (I may experiment with less sugar)
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
1 egg (or 2 egg whites)
1 cup mashed bananas (the riper the better)
¼ - 1/3 cup applesauce (I use the unsweetened variety)

Mix the dry ingredients.  Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl and then combine the mixtures. 



Spoon into a greased loaf pan.

Bake at 350 for 55min or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes up clean.

Other variations:
Add chopped nuts, whatever variety and amount you like.
Add a few handfuls of chocolate chips

Of course, if you want to kick it up another notch you want (not as healthy though) with a crumble topping of brown sugar, butter & flour.

Bean has declared this the best banana bread he’s ever had and I’ve ever made.  It’s very moist and very sweet (which is why I may try less sugar next time).  I also may experiment with adding some ground flaxseed for added nutrients.  I also wonder if oatmeal would be another possible addition or partial substitution.

Did you notice that there is NO oil and NO butter in the recipe?  That’s one of the things I love most about it.  But I promise, you will never know the difference.  I haven't tried the recipe as muffins, but I'm certain they'd be good also.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

I'm on the hunt for a good fat-free (or almost) oatmeal raisin cookie.  Those are my absolute favorite.  I'll let you know when I find one!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

boots & bling

Mommy bling seems to be one of the latest fads.  Several years ago we got a Grandmother's Necklace for my mother-in-law which had the birthstones of her sons, daughter-in-laws and grandkids.  There have been 3 more grandkids born since we gave it to her. Two were born in months that already had birthdays--but the last baby wasn't.  Not sure what we'll do about that!

Anyhow, I've had my eye on various mommy bling for a while now.  When I shop for something important, I take FOREVER.  And I often buy stuff, take it back and buy something different.

For instance, poor Bean.  I wanted boots for Christmas.  I had a particular style in mind.  He tried to find them, but wasn't successful.  So he got me a gift card to the store I had seen the style of boots in a few months prior.  Of course by the time I went shopping a week after Christmas--everyone has all their boots on sale and so sizes and styles are limited.  The store I had the gift card to, had nothing that interested me.  And they were all a size 6 or size 10.  Of which I am neither.

Bean, being the wonderful husband he is, said we'll use the gift card for someone else--just find boots.  So I found pair #1, which were similar to the style I really wanted.  But then I found my ultimate boot online.  So I ordered them, pair #2.  I liked them, but the were too big.  So both pairs had to go back and I re-ordered a smaller size.  (Bean took them both back--whattaguy).  I finally got the 3rd pair a few days ago.  And at first I thought they'd be a bust because they were now too tight in the calf.  I'm cursed with calves.  They aren't really fat, maybe muscular, but just thick.  Both my sisters & my mom have the same issue.  But this morning I decided to wear them around the house with my cute new skinny jeans--and I decided they were okay. Whew.  Luckily they are "scrunchy boots" so they are just a bit more scrunched on me than on others.

See, it's not easy for me to make decisions about things that are costly or I will have for a long time.  I don't spend lots of money on just one item often, so when I do I really want it to count and I want to make sure I get exactly what I want.  So, maybe I'm a bit of a high maintenance shopper.  But it also means I don't have expensive unused items in my closet or drawers!

So, back to mommy bling.  I'm all about simplicity when it comes to jewelry.  When Bean and I were talking about getting engaged, I was concerned that if my diamond was too big I would bang it around too much.  Seriously, what girl doesn't want "too big" of a diamond?  I'm not normal.  My ring is just right though!  Bean made sure the diamond was set low on the band.  I have a few necklaces that I wear, that have just one small charm on them.  I wear the same earrings 365 days a year.  Small silver studs in the top hole and small silver hoops in the bottom.  When I'm feeling crazy, I might wear one of the other 5 pairs of "fancy " earrings I own--which are just small dangly ones.

I love the simplicity of the latest in mommy jewelry.  Not to fancy or sparkly.  Sensible chains, but personalized with meaning.  This, I can do!

In my purusing, I always come back to two designers.  Who both happen to have giveways going right now.  Is it okay to blog about two giveways in one blog, in hopes of winning one of them?  Hopefully it is, because I am!  (It's also a great heads up to a certain someone for a potential Mother's Day/Birthday gift!)

Beth at I Should Be Folding Laundry is giving away a gift certificate to The Vintage Pearl.  Honestly, it's hard to pick a favorite (see above boot story). 

I like the layered mother of pearl, dainty names and layered circle of love.

Lisa Leonard is hosting her own giveway to her illuminate necklace.  I also really like her heartstrings necklace

Which ones do you like??  Go enter one or both giveaways.  You need some mommy bling too.  Even if you aren't a mommy, you can choose to honor any person or passion in your life.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

first playdate

I just picked Miss Rose up from her first playdate at a school friend's house.  When I went and helped in her class for the Christmas party another mom there said that her daughter talks about Miss Rose a lot and would like to have a play date, which we finally connected for today.

It was a bit of a surreal experience.  The whole, dropping your child off at someone's house you barely know.  Bean grilled me several times about the set up, obviously a bit nervous about it.  But the other mom seemed quite "normal" and they live in a neighboring area, very near Bean's mom. 

Of course I went in to their house to check things out a bit and make sure Miss Rose seemed comfortable.  At first, I thought Miss Rose wasn't going to want me to leave.  She was clingy and shy.  Which was to be expected.  It's got to feel strange to be left at another family's house--even knowing their child.

But in the end, she said she wanted to say and by the time I left, she was off playing and didn't even come to bid me farewell.  She had a wonderful time and we're planning to have the same little girl over to our house next week.

It made me feel both old and young.  Old, that I have a child old enough for this experience.  Yet, I always feel young in these setting so far.  I suppose part of it is having 2 younger children still.  I feel like others would look at me and think I'm young or immature.

But, this other mom was probably within a few years of my age, and I'm sure I don't appear as young as perhaps I feel.

So we can cross "first playdate away from home" off our list as parents.  As we drove up, the neighbor girl was coming to see if Miss Rose could play, so now she's next door.  Lucky kid!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

train of thought

I really want to blog...but I can't really pick one thing to blog about.  Mostly because, as usual, there are too many things swimming around in my head and it's hard to pick just one to develop. 

So, have fun following my train of thought!  And let me warn you, the cars on this train may be on the same track, but they don't have a lot in common.  Welcome to my brain!!

I can't believe that January is almost half over, much less that my baby is going to be one in just a few weeks.  Bean and I are doing a Daniel Fast this week with our church.  I fasted in college, but it's been a long time since I've done a fast--and this is the first time I've done a Daniel fast.  Basically we're eating anything that comes from seed and isn't refined or have preservatives.  We aren't hungry at all, but it is an adjustment.  In fact it's a much healthier way to eat!

One of the neat things is the timing of this fast.  Back in December, when our whole family got sick and I ended up in the ER, Bean had an important physical test that he had to miss.  It's rescheduled for this Saturday.  In the Book of Daniel, Daniel and the other men with him ate just vegetables and water and at the end of 10 days their minds were sharper and they were healthier than all the other men.  In Daniel 10, another fast is recorded that gives more details of what he ate and didn't eat.   I think God is preparing Bean both mentally and physically this week for Saturday.  Bean said I could share that he's taking a physical test to become a police officer.  It's a longtime dream of his and we are praying that God opens every door.  We'd love if you joined us in praying!   This is just the second step in a long process.

We established some family rules a few months ago.  Simply writing them out and putting them on the kitchen wall did help Miss Rose in following them.  But we still struggle a lot with her speaking and responses.  She talks back, disagrees and speaks negatively A LOT more than I want her to, or is acceptable.  I'm thinking up a demarit system where after a certain number of marks, she loses a privilege or has consequences.  It's hard to figure out what that would be though.  There isn't one thing that she does every single day.  And half of the week she isn't with me, so restrictions could be hard or impossible to enforce.  I have to do something though, because it's not getting better.

I used to think I would be this awesome mom with children who behaved and were respectful.  I'm finding that is a lot harder than I anticipated.  I just haven't quite figured it out yet.  I'm trying to decipher were we didn't discipline soon enough with Miss Rose so that we can do better with Gracie.  She's starting to show some verbal spunk herself.  This parenting thing is hard sometimes.

There are random moments in the day, that it hits me once again that Eddie is gone.  As I was running this afternoon (I actually got a short 3 mile run in!) he came to mind once again.  It's been a journey to figure out my grief as I haven't seen Eddie more than a handful of times in the past ten years.  But for about 10 years I saw him several times a week.  I realized today that much of my grief stems from the man I know Eddie was, and how incredibly important he was to those closest to him and the huge hole that he leaves.  Yes, the hole in my life is there, but it's nothing compared to the hole he leaves in others. 

A few blogs I've read recently have given me food for thought about my blog and my honestly and boldness in what I talk about.  I want to be more raw this year on my blog.  Not that I'm not real or honest, but I think there is more I can share.  And mostly, it's for me.  While I am glad that a handful of people read and enjoy my blog, it's my outlet.  I enjoy writing and express myself best that way.  So I think I'm going to become more expressive.

Oh, and baby Finley who was born in November at 26 weeks, weighting 1 pound and 6 oz?  She's hopefully going home soon!  Perhaps even before her mid-February due date.  She's past 4 pounds now, off oxygen and learning to eat.  God is GOOD!  She is a miracle baby in so many ways.  I'm excited to go celebrate with her mom soon and shower her with lots of love.  This is a long-awaited for baby in more ways than one.

There are so many more cars on this train...but it's getting late and the train is slowing down. 

**there are probably about ten links I should have put into this post, but not happening tonight :)

Friday, January 8, 2010

in the middle

I know, it's been a while since I had to posts in one day.  But after what happened tonight, I couldn't resist. And you'll be glad I didn't.  I wanted to record this moment while it was still fresh in my mind.

Tonight we had our first ever Pizza Picnic.  It was a random idea that popped into my head--getting pizza at our favorite pizza place, spreading a sheet on the living room floor and picnicing together.  It was quite fun.

My first observation of the night was my spastic almost-6-year-old.  I know for a fact Miss Rose is one of the best students in her class.  Not the smartest, that's Jimmy who was reading chapter books when he started Kinder, but the teacher said she's the most responsible and was even given two word lists this week instead of one because she's learning so quickly. 

But asking her to repeat a story, while sitting on the floor eating, was like pulling the tooth of an ant.  I know, ants probably don't have teeth--so I mean this was an impossible task.  Miss Rose loves to talk about her schoolday, right after school.  Beyond that, it seems to disappear from her mind.  So getting her to recount a few things she had told me, to her dad was impossible.  She claimed to forget or not know, or she was just being goofy and her limbs were flying everywhere.  I'm serious. She was the contortionist in the three bean circus tonight.

Several minutes later, the story was still incomplete.  I was prompting Miss Rose once again when Gracie, who was seated between us just yelled out "NIPPLE."

I must digress and tell you that over our Christmas break, Gracie discovered nipples for the first time--or noticed and questioned about them.  It started one morning when the four of us were jockeying for bed space in our bed.  I think she unzipped her jammies at some point being silly and then asked about her nipples--so I told her what they were.  Then she wanted to see Miss Rose's "nibbles."  She went out to the couch, where her auntie was sleeping and said "Mimi, I have nibbles."  Gracie came back to where I was still in bed (pretending I was still asleep), pointed to a mole on my back and asked if it was "nibble" and where the other one was.

So back to tonight.  Gracie yelled out "NIPPLE" (she's obviously learned the correct pronunciation) and we all started dying with laughter.  Once I gained my composure, I made the mistake of asking Miss Rose a question to get her to finish her story once again.  Yeah, you guessed it, Gracie yelled out "nipple" again.  And for about five minutes, anytime someone started to say something, she would say "nipple" with the goofiest look on her face.

Clearly she was needing some attention.  So I asked if she had any stories to share.  Nipple was of course one of the stories.  And when I asked what store we went to today, it was the tootie store.  Another of her favorite words. 

Apparently tootie, booty and nipple are her top words these days.  Oh, I am a proud mom.  And she loves the song "Single Ladies."

Nipple was a popular word in our house tonight.  I have the sneaking suspicion that after the response Gracie garnered tonight, we haven't seen the last of this word.  I can't wait until it comes up in a public place.  Hopefully her Sunday School teachers won't be talking to me about it.

Yes, I did tell her to stop staying it a few times.  But honestly, I'm still laughing out loud just writing this post, so I was not in much control of myself tonight. 

My sweet middle child.  Making sure she gets her dues.  How I love her and look forward to all of these moments!

still a circus

While my posts of late have focused more on myself and dealing with grief, fear not dear blog readers, there still is a three bean circus act going on at our house.

Miss Rose, well she's as dramatic and emotional as ever.  She's reached the age, where if she does something that amuses us, and it hurts her or gets her in trouble, she becomes IRATE if and when we laugh.  Which results in us trying to stifle our laughter.  Which makes her more mad. Which usually gets her sent to her room.  After which we continue to try and stifle our laughter.  And then Miss Super-Ears yells from her room, "I CAN STILL HEAR YOU LAUGHING."

Gracie, oh boy, what a wreck she is.  The longer her hair grows, the more crazy it becomes.  The other night after her bath Gracie made a comment about how crazy her hair was.  I told her to come and let me brush her hair out to which she replied, "can you brush the crazies out of my hair?"  Gracie is often sighted shaking her booty, anywhere and everywhere.  And she usually announces it too. 

Lily, is about to be one.  Which just completely shocks me and excites me and saddens me.  It's such a bittersweet time.  I absolutely love the first year of a baby's life.  All the cuddles and smiles, the nursing and bonding.  Sure, I complain about losing the baby weight and the lack of sleep, but I still love every minute of it.  Lily finally cut her first tooth after Christmas.  She is demonstrating a desire to move--sometimes she'll get from a sitting position to her belly or evetually her back.  She tries to crawl, but only ends up scooting backwards, usually until she's under the couch with just her head popping out.  Lily loves her sisters and gets so excited after her nap when she sees them.

I love this circus so much.  Yes, it drives me crazy sometimes and I need to get away for some "me" time, but these three beauties are food to my soul.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I would like you to meet him

I've been writing a lot about our longtime friend Eddie who passed away the day after Christmas.

I'd like you to meet him.  Well, he's hanging with Jesus, so you really can't meet him.  But you can learn a little about him.  And perhaps reading some of these words will give you small picture into the man he was and the legacy he leaves.  And perhaps it will inspire you to think about your legacy.

Eddie's Obituary...

Eddie lived life in a way left an imprint on the hearts of all who knew him. To those who called him friend he was faithful, real, loyal, a talented musician. To the two who called him Daddy, he was gentle, caring, bigger than life, heroic and always there for them. To the one who called him by the dearest of names, he was sensitive, strong, selfless, patient and forgiving--a man of faith who loved her as much as life itself.

As for priorities, Eddie's were clear, and the result is a life's mission passed on to those of us left behind: believe in God, love unconditionally, give yourself away and always put people first. Eddie's presence will be painfully missed, but the legacy of his life so well-lived on the earth thrives in the spirits of his two young boys and his strong and Godly wife. Eddie went to be with his Lord and Savior on December 26, 2009. He was 33 years old. He is survived by his wife, Alison, sons Gavin (4 yrs. old) and Logan (2 yrs. old), and his grandparents, Donald and Evangeline.

Here's the thing.  What I've been thinking on a bit lately.

Eddie had a far from picture perfect life.  He was not a golden boy by any means.  His childhood held things no child should see or experience.  His teen years lacked strong parental support (although his grandparents stepped in).  As a result, his early adulthood was somewhat tumultuous too.  It took Eddie a while to find his way.

I knew Eddie from the time we were kids, so I always called him friend.  Everything else was inconsequential.  Eddie had amazing people come alongside him in his life.  Many weeks, half of his time was spent at one best friend's house and the other half at my husband's.  His wife thanked these two moms for "raising" Eddie.

You know what though, if I was a mom of a junior high or high school aged son, and he brought a friend home like Eddie, I wonder what my reaction would be.  Our instincts are to protect of course.  And to shelter.  Would I have wanted to shelter my son from Eddie?  Would I have been concerned with the influence his rough life might have on my child?  Would I have discouraged the friendship?

Because if these two surrogate moms had done that, Eddie wouldn't have been the man he was.  These moms were Christlike.  They saw a potential, a need in Eddie, and welcomed him into their homes and their families.

How I hope that I will have the eyes of Christ when my children bring their friends home.  That I find that potential in each one, regardless of the good and bad of their lives, and help them realize it.  My heart has plenty of room to love more children as my own.

Thank you my friends, for encouraging me, and listening to my grief.  Your words mean so much to me.

Monday, January 4, 2010

tumbling words

The thoughts tumble around in my head.  So many thoughts, on various things, both serious and trite.  But the words are hard to come.  Words mean a lot.  Especially the written (or typed) word. 

In the last year, thanks to blogging and facebook and twitter, I have come to value the written word and understand the importance of your words.  It's easy to forget that there is an audience, whether big or small.  On Facebook, there is no way of tracking who reads your status updates or wall posts by friends.  And a lot is revealed in those words.  I'm careful to not be nonchalant about my words.  I know who my potential audience is (especially on Facebook and Twitter) and I strive to strike a balance of honesty with wisdom. 

If I'm in conflict with a friend, family member or co-worker, social media probably is not the place to vent or share my angry or frustrated words.  But if I'm having a bad day, if I'm sad or deliriously happy--I love to share those moments.  Or the funny things my kids do or say, or the overflow of my heart at that moment.  I enjoy reading those pieces of others lives, and so I share my own.  I'm a very relational person and I count many as my good friends and have kept in touch with friends from childhood.  Facebook has helped feed this part of my life!

But lately, the words tumble around, and I just can't choose which ones to articulate.

There are a lot of sad words.  We honored the life of my friend Eddie on Saturday.  An extremely hard day, bittersweet as it brought together friends of old.  It's still such a fresh wound.  Not only does his loss affect me, but it has a profound effect on my husband, my brother-in-law, and other dear friends.  We are a big extended family who has lost one of our own.

I've reflected on the past year, and am looking ahead to new things in 2010.  I have some things I hope to work on and change about myself, our finances, how our family runs etc.  But I guess I'm just not ready to commit them to the screen.

We had a wonderful Christmas and there are fun photos to share.  Funny stories of the past week as we spent time together as a family--our first "vacation" since both Bean and I were off for Lily's birth. 

God is doing a lot of work in me.  The last half of 2009 brought some great spiritual revelations to my life and heart.  I'm looking forward to more of that in 2010.  I wrote in my journal tonight, "I want to be a better me.  A better wife and mother, a better pastor, friend and follower of Christ."  Our church is preparing to embark upon a Daniel fast next week.  I'm very excited about it--for my own life and our church as a whole.  I fasted for a long period of time in college and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. 

I don't want this blog to become a dreary place.  I am finding solace in the Lord, in His Word, and also the new David Crowder album.  I am trying to focus on rejoicing that Eddie is loving his new life in heaven.  But yet my heart remains so heavy for his family and close friends.

My brother-in-law said some wise words on Saturday to a few of us.  He listed off the stages of grief, and then he said--"yeah, but it's not like that when you have God."  Certainly you are angry, but you trust God.  You may walk in denial or bargain with God that it didn't have to be this way, but yet you trust that His way is higher than our way.

So my words continue to tumble around in my head.  Pardon the silence on my blog as of late.  When you are reminded of the brevity of life and suddeness of death, you want what you say to matter.  I guess that's what it is.  I don't want to blog, just to blog.  I don't want to put on the happy face, when I'm sad.  But I don't want to wallow in grief either.  So, I will figure this out.  And I know it will change me, and perhaps even my piddly little blog for the better.

Hopefully this is first in the process of becoming a better me.